Digital Alternative Medicine to Hit Market in 2014

New technology continues to change our lives. Today almost everyone has a smartphone or knows someone who does. And now, technology will soon remind us when to take our medicines as well as eliminating lapses between refills, as missed pills and improper doses is one of the major causes of more health complications. To solve this problem, advances in medicine can eliminate harmful side effects that come with people misusing their medication. Digital drugs and digital bottles are expected to hit the market in 2014 or early 2015.

Pills with sensors, the size of a grain of sand, are in the process of development by Proteus Digital Health.  The sensor in the pill track who is taking the medicine.  The data transfers to a one-use strip worn on the taker’s skin and then sent to a mobile application.  At the user’s consent, their caregiver, doctor or family can access this information.

Seniors are a target market for the pills designed by Proteus Digital Health, notes chief executive Andrew Thompson.  Because older patients take multiple medications, these technologically advanced pills can help seniors stay organized and on schedule and avoid serious health consequences.

Digital medicine is the up and coming technology that will help caregivers juggle all their other tasks at hand.  With this help, no confusion will face the caregiver whether or not their senior has taken their medication.  For those that may be concerned about a digitalized pill, there are other options that help caregivers and seniors with notifications via bottle.

Medicine bottles that glow different colors have been created by AdhereTech Inc. When it’s time to take a dose, the bottle glows blue. When the user has missed a dose, the bottle glows red.  The company’s server can also remind the consumer via text.

Medication past the expiration date can be clearly indicated by bottles generated by the product-design firm IDEO.  When the pills are expired, the bottle starts to spot like an overripe banana.  This idea is still in the concept stage, but will surely help people know their medication is no longer safe to take.

Nursing homes can also take notice to all these developments in medicine. With aid by technology, nursing homes and assisted living staff members can easily keep track of who took their medication and whose medication has expired.  For those who are seeking assistance in nursing homes, Caregiverlist.com has a database of over 18,000 nursing homes with options to filter by Caregiverlist’s Star Rating system. Finding the right nursing home for your loved one can be made efficiently and very quickly.

 

-Kristin Kruk

 

Home Care Financial Assistance: What Does the Future Hold?

Medicaid- and state-funded programs that pay for home-based services for elderly individuals who might otherwise require nursing home care have been, until recently, available in many states. However, many home  and community care programs find themselves on the chopping block due to state budget cuts.

New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will have to close 105 of the city’s 256 senior centers if the state does not restore $27 million in funding. The senior centers are integral to keeping low income seniors living at home by providing hot meals, exercise classes to assist in healthy aging, and the opportunity to socialize.

The Illinois Department of Aging’s Community Care program, which pays for home health care workers for the elderly, has run out of money, according to WBEZ Chicago public radio report. Ironically, unless funding is restored, the state could find itself paying more for senior care if those elderly wind up in nursing homes.

Senior home care costs $15 - $25 per hour for hourly care and $150 - $350 per day for 24-hour live-in care. That compares to $180 - $400 per day for nursing home care. And that’s if you can find an available bed in a quality nursing home. A recent article by Philip Moeller in U.S. News and World Report delved into the shortage of space in nursing homes nationwide.

It’s no secret that seniors prefer to age in place, in their own home and community. Studies have shown that home- and community-based care can lead to better health outcomes. As the population ages, there will be a greater need for home- and community-based care. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that roughly 9.5 million people in the U.S. will turn 85 over the next 10 years. The question remains: How will an aging population on a limited income pay for the much-needed in home care?  

Lawmakers hold the key to finding and diverting money in their budgets to senior services. In Georgia, Patricia Lyons, who runs Senior Citizens Inc. and supplies Meals on Wheels to many Savannah seniors was prepared for the worst. She was looking at the elimination of much of the program when federal funding was scheduled to run out and the governor didn’t replace the money with state funds. She was worried that the most vulnerable of the city’s elderly would lose their lifeline. Her drivers not only delivered food, but checked to make sure the seniors were healthy.

Legislators agreed that the service was too important to cut and found funding by cutting other contracts in their budget. The Meals on Wheels program in Georgia was saved.

If you know Caregiverlist at all, you know that we are huge advocates of senior home care — we support caregivers, agencies and seniors alike. If you care about quality home care and want to see continued funding, we ask you contact your state legislature or your state’s Department on Aging and let them know how important it is to keep funding these programs.

Nursing Home Costs Nationwide: Review Daily Costs of Nursing Homes

Senior care costs are an item that many of us do not plan ahead for - we just hope that it will never be a need.  However, the reality is that all of us should plan for needing senior care services for at least 2 years of our lives.  

Medicare, the health insurance program for all American seniors, does not pay for long-term care.  In the event a senior should "spend-down" all of their assets, they may qualify for Medicaid, a version of Medicare insurance for very low-income seniors with few assets.  Each state administers Medicaid benefits in conjunction with federal funding, which means the financial spend-down requirement varies in each state and you may view these financial requirements on Caregiverlist.

Medicaid financial qualification requirements in most states must be no more than $2,000 in assets for a single senior and $3,000 in assets for a couple.  There is an anti-spousal poverty provision that will allow one spouse to maintain more assets while the other spends down to qualify for Medicaid benefits.  This can especially be needed if one senior has memory loss or another age-related illness which requires years of caregiving services.

Nursing homes are often an extension of a hospital stay as Medicare will pay for rehabilitation services in a nursing home after a hospital stay.  However, Medicare does not pay for 100% of all the costs of a nursing home and only pays for the first 20 days of the daily fee (remember, some activities and hair care and other services cost extra) and then from days 21 to 148 the senior must pay $148 per day.  This means, in some instances, switching to one-on-one care in the home can be more cost effective.

Seniors should investigate nursing homes in their area before they need nursing home care, especially since there is a chance if a sudden medical condition such as a stroke or hip replacement, requires rehabilitation, the hospital may do a quick discharge to a nursing home in the area.  You may also receive information from licensed senior home care agencies.

Nursing home costs range from $100 to $400 or more per day.  You may review the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide in Caregiverlist's Nursing Home Directory to plan ahead for your senior care needs.

 

 

Seniors Saving Billions a Year on Prescription Drugs Thanks to Affordable Care Act

Doughnut holes are for pastry shops, right?  Wrong.  Not when it comes to our friendly Congress passing legislation that makes no sense.  A doughnut hole was actually included in the previous prescription drug benefit for seniors and recently corrected in the new healthcare law - it was a hole in payouts for benefits.  And when this type of legislation happens, it does spark the thought that lobbying can be very successful.  The prescription drug companies have spent millions lobbying Congress and as Open Secrets publishes, the drug company's lobbying dollars match when the legislation gets passed.

So this silly doughnut hole was labeled as such because as a senior you would have a benefit to pay for your prescription drug until you took a big enough bite and hit the "hole" and then there was no benefit paid until you got to the other side of the hole and then it would pay again.  Meanwhile, for whatever your health condition is, you need this medication so seniors were very stressed about how they would pay for it while in the "doughnut hole".

I was invited to serve on a research panel, which the government paid for just to make sure that seniors really were confused by their prescription drug plan and that everyone thought the doughnut hole was silly.  As I told them, what private paid healthcare plan would ever sell any such thing?  They wouldn't, because nobody would buy it.  


However, the good news is this:  
the new healthcare law - nicknamed "Obama Care", has saved seniors $6 billion dollars in prescription drug benefits because it eliminated this doughnut hole.  Here is the Health and Human Services news release on the announcement.

 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this week that more than 6.3 million people with Medicare saved over $6.1 billion on prescription drugs because of the new health care law.

“By making prescription drugs more affordable, the Affordable Care Act is improving and promoting the best care for people with Medicare,” Secretary Sebelius said.

The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) more affordable by gradually closing the gap in coverage where beneficiaries must pay the full cost of their prescriptions out of pocket. This gap is known as the donut hole.

People with Medicare in the doughnut hole now receive discounts when they purchase prescription drugs at a pharmacy or order them through the mail, until they reach the catastrophic coverage phase.  The Affordable Care Act gave those who reached the donut hole in 2010 a one-time $250 check, then began phasing in discounts and coverage for brand-name and generic prescription drugs beginning in 2011.  The law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

In 2013, the health care law increases the discounts and savings to 52.5 percent of the cost of most brand name drugs and 21 percent of the cost of covered generic drugs.

Also under the Affordable Care Act, those who choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage and Part D now have access to a wider range of high-quality plan choices, with more four- and five-star plans than were previously available.  The Affordable Care Act continues to make Medicare more secure, with new tools and enhanced authority to crack down on criminals who cheat the program.

Learn more about how the Affordable Care Act closes the doughnut hole.

Review state-by-state information on savings in the doughnut hole.

Learn about senior care costs for long-term care and find nursing homes in your area as you plan for all your senior care needs.

Quartet is Latest Nursing Home Movie

Maggie Smith, our favorite dowager countess on PBS’ Downton Abbey, is on the big screen this month in Quartet, a film set in a home for retired performers, musicians, and especially opera singers.

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is the movie version of a British play of the same name that follows the residents of Beecham House as they prepare for their annual gala concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. Ms. Smith plays a diva (what else?) with a caustic tongue and oversized ego, whose arrival at the home reunites her with her former colleagues.



Retirement home movies, if not trending, are proving to be very fashionable at present. Quartet comes on the heels of the wildly popular The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, an ensemble piece starring the aforementioned Dame Maggie Smith, along with Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy. That movie took place in an Indian retirement home and followed its residents and their (misguided) hopes and visions of an exciting and luxurious future. And while not finding quite what they expected, they find joy with each other in their less-than five-star accommodations.

Elderly actors in film are nothing new. Christopher Plummer is the oldest Academy Award recipient who, at 82, won a Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the 2010 film Beginners. What is a relatively new phenomenon is the advent of the elderly ensemble cast, where most, if not all, major characters are seniors — seniors who lead a rich and valuable lives. These ensemble pieces are very attractive to a movie-going population who is getting older as well. The movement is being called the “greying of the silver screen” and turn Hollywood’s obsession with youth on its head.

According to Nielsen’s National Research Group, the proportion of oldest moviegoers (65-74) has been steadily growing over the last few years. Great actors are no longer fading into retirement and are bringing their audience into the theaters with them.

Dustin Hoffman, himself now 75, discussed choosing the material, exploring aging and life’s “third act” in the February/March Issue of AARP The Magazine.

“During filming I was saying to everybody in the cast, ‘We’re all in the same act together.’ I always think it’s a three-act play and we’re in the second act—the third act being something that alters you, some infirmity or whatever. And somebody responded, ‘Maybe it’s a Shakespearean play with five acts.’ I liked that. Maybe I’ve got three more acts.”

Nursing Home Shootings

Yesterday, a Certified Nursing Aide's estranged husband entered a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina, where she was employed, and killed 7 residents and a nurse during his shooting rampage. 

Usually the nursing home deaths which make the news are related to mistreatment of residents or improper care procedures which lead to death.  This is one of the reasons more people are opting for care in the home, instead of a nursing home, especially for short-term care needs, as a one-on-one caregiver can often deliver better care.

Nursing home incidents which result in inferior care are usually connected to staffing issues.  Sometimes nursing homes staff only 1 nursing aide to as many as 15 residents.  This is why many times experienced Certified Nursing Aides will move into home care positions where they know they can provide quality care to just one client,.

Earlier this year, an Itasca, Illinois nursing home employee watched television for more than an hour and ignored the alarm that indicated a woman with Alzheimer's disease was wandering.  The elderly resident went outside in freezing temperatures and her frozen body was later found in the facility's courtyard.

The employee was charged with criminal neglect.

Senior Home Care Agencies provide professionally managed caregivers for seniors and these caregivers are usually highly qualified and experienced.  Home care agencies perform background checks on all caregivers and also train and actively manage the caregivers for each assignment.

You can learn about the background check laws in each state on Caregiverlist's "by state" information section (because as in the situation above, it is also important that companies do not hire someone who has demonstrated poor judgement in the past.  Most career caregivers want to receive high recommendations from their managers as they know they will need to be reassigned after a current client's condition improves or after the senior passes. And, as they have invested in training to become a professional caregiver, they want to continue to be employed).
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